Empowering Women in Essex County
Career Quest at the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW Center for Womenby Andrea Silvershein
The Linda and Rudy Slucker NCJW Center for Women -- which is funded by the NCJW Essex County Section -- has been providing women, children, and families with innovative community services and programs for nearly three decades!
On any given day, you'll see the Center for Women buzzing with activity: women learning how to use computers; children huddled around a table talking, playing, and expressing their feelings; job seekers strategizing to find work; learning how to cope with the loss of a loved one; and so much more. Collectively, the Center for Women coordinates eight community service programs for women and their families.
We've always been proud of our commitment to be in tune with the changing needs of the people we serve, regardless of race, religion, or economic status. We create and provide programs to meet these needs. Career Quest, which began in August 2009, is one of these programs. It grew from the need to provide job readiness services to married and single women -- a demographic that we had not been serving.
Our goal with Career Quest is to offer our many job readiness services to these women who have had their lives changed by the current economic conditions and consequently needed to re-enter the workforce. Services offered include: career planning, resume writing, interview skills, job searching strategies, clothing for interviews, computer classes, peer support groups, workshops, and legal and financial guidance. As a result, our program empowers women to be self-sufficient, enables them to take care of their families, and improves their quality of life.
In less than a year, Career Quest has been able to serve a diverse population of women. The 30+ participants have ranged in age from 21 to the mid-50's. There is also a wide variety of reasons these women are motivated to participate in the program. Some haven't worked in many years but are highly educated, while others need further education, computer courses, or other support. Many who are on unemployment benefits want to take advantage of our services to hone their skills so that they are "job ready" by the time their benefits cease. Others are simply trying to be prepared in case the need to get a job arises, or are concerned that their husbands will lose their jobs in this economy and they will have to go back to work.
A vital component of our Career Quest program is that we also help these women gain self-confidence, offer reassurance and guidance, and provide referrals to assist clients with securing positions. We are proud that we have been able to fill a void and provide such individualized assistance for these women, so many of whom had nowhere else to turn for the skills and support necessary to get "job ready." They all are very appreciative of our services and the more they learn about the program, the more they want to participate. Under the umbrella of the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW Center for Women, Career Quest looks forward to continuing this tradition of service and empowerment.
Andrea Silvershein is the executive director of the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW Center for Women and the community services director of the NCJW Essex County Section.